Gal Mekel is set to become the second Israeli in the NBA after agreeing to a three-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks.
According to ESPN senior NBA writer, Marc Stein, the Mavericks were notified by the point guard in the early hours of Monday morning that he is committing to sign a multiyear guaranteed contract at a league minimum salary after the NBA's annual moratorium on signings and trades is lifted on July 10.
The deal cannot be officially announced until the moratorium is lifted, but NBA rules allow players and teams to reach verbal agreements and Dallas reportedly beat out the likes of Milwaukee, Toronto, Atlanta, Indiana and Memphis for Mekel's services by guaranteeing him a three-year deal.
Despite agreeing to a minimum contract, the 25-year-old 1.91-meter guard will still earn more than he made at Maccabi Haifa last season, with his salary to reach $490,000 in 2013/14. His paycheck will jump to $816,000 the following season and will be just under one million dollars in his third year.
Mekel's talent was evident from a young age, prompting Maccabi Tel Aviv to add the guard to their youth team when he was 17.
After two years at Wichita State, Mekel returned to Israel in 2008, signing a long-term contract with the yellow-and-blue.
However, after realizing that he was destined to only play a minor role at Maccabi, he left on a loan deal to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil. Mekel's excellent performances at Gilboa persuaded coach Pini Gershon to bring him back into the fold for 2009/10, but with two other playmakers ahead of him in the rotation, Mekel quickly grew frustrated and returned to Gilboa early in the season. He ended the campaign as a BSL champion after helping Gilboa to a win over Gershon and Maccabi in the Final Four title game.
After another year in Gilboa, Mekel spent an injury-plagued season in Benetton Treviso in Italy in 2011/12 before returning to Israel last year to join Maccabi Haifa.
Mekel denied Tel Aviv a second championship in four years last month, scoring 21 points and registering seven assists in a shock 86-79 win over the yellow-and-blue in the league final, giving Haifa its first ever title.
Mekel averaged 13.1 points, 6.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds in the post-season for Haifa and shortly after leading the Greens to the championship and being crowned as MVP, he flew to the US and held extremely impressive workouts with the Milwaukee Bucks, as well as Dallas and Atlanta,
As things currently stand, Mekel is set to be given every opportunity to shine in the Dallas rotation alongside the likes of Dirk Nowitzki.
The Mavs acquired point guard Shane Larkin, who was selected by Atlanta with the 18th pick in the NBA draft last week, but unrestricted free agent Darren Collison, who started 47 games last season, is not expected back in Dallas, with the future of fellow unrestricted free agent Rodrigue Beubois also up in the air.
Israel's first NBA player Omri Casspi is currently without a team after not having his contract renewed by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In other basketball news, Maccabi Tel Aviv made its first signing of the summer on Monday, adding Alex Tyus on a two-year deal. The 25-year-old big-man received Israeli citizenship last year after converting to Judaism during his time at the University of Florida and was part of the Israel national team's successful
EuroBasket qualifying campaign.
After one season at Maccabi Ashdod, Tyus played for Cantu in Italy in 2012/13, averaging 8.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in the Euroleague.
"Alex is a great addition to our team," said coach David Blatt. "He has already played in the Israeli league and the Euroleague and that gives him very important experience and means that he will come here fearless."
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